Chapter 636: Signboards

Qiu Honglei snorted angrily. “I just couldn’t stand her righteous attitude! It was different when I visited Chu Estate the last time. She was indeed your wife back then. Now, though, the Chu clan has abandoned you to save their own skins. How can I let her get away with that?”

Zu An sighed. “It’s not what you think. It was the best choice back then, and the Chu clan supported me privately afterwards.”

Qiu Honglei pouted. “I still feel like they abandoned you.”

Zu An was silent. He understood that any decisions made by a clan had to be made on the basis of benefitting the most people. None of the clan leaders could make decisions based on their own selfish whims, and so he understood why the Chu clan had done what they did. However, understanding the decision was one thing. He didn’t feel too good about it either. He discovered that, after arriving in this world, he had never had a true family.

Qiu Honglei noticed his dejected appearance, and held his hand. “Okay… My motives weren’t that pure either. I just didn’t want to see her acting so smug.”

Zu An smiled and pulled her into his embrace. “You’re a Devil Sect monster, right? It’s completely natural for you to do something like this.”

After their most recent interaction, their relationship had improved drastically. Qiu Honglei leaned comfortably into his embrace, eager to continue the shared affection that had been interrupted.

Despite this distraction, Zu An didn’t forget his reason for leaving the palace. He bought a hammock from a street shop while Qiu Honglei kept him company. She was surprised by his purchase. “Why are you buying this?”

“For your master, of course. It’s pretty awkward for a man and woman to live together,” explained Zu An.

Qiu Honglei’s eyes widened. “You slept on the same bed as my master last night?”

Zu An’s face heated up. How could he dare to admit to something like that? “There’s no way that’s possible,” he said quickly. “Even if I wanted to, would your master agree to it?”

Qiu Honglei smiled. “You’re right. It would have made more sense for her to kill you with one smack.”

It wasn’t just a smack. Zu An was still sore from her kick earlier in the morning.

After buying the hammock, Zu An had to check in at the eastern palace. With such a serious incident happening in the eastern palace the night before, it would not be a good look if the crown prince’s secretary did not show up for work.

The two reluctantly separated. Qiu Honglei sighed as she watches at his retreating figure. She had no idea what in the world had come over her. She clearly had no reason to be so close to him because of her cultivation technique, yet she just had to argue with Chu Chuyan.

The way she had been forced to act the last time she visited the Chu clan still gnawed at her, though, and facing her head-on this time helped to soothe that particular wound.

Zu An continued to receive Rage points from Chu Chuyan the entire way to the imperial palace. He had really pissed her off badly this time. He had to find a way to appease her.

However, he had work to take care of, and had to enter the imperial palace first.

Zu An pretended like he had no idea what had happened as he entered the eastern palace. He immediately expressed his shock when he saw the destruction around him.

Someone spoke up from the side. “Lord Zu?”

Zu An turned around. He noticed that a guard with dark circles was walking over. He smiled and said, “Greetings, Guardsman Piao.”

Piao Duandiao was quite shocked. An imperial guard like him was obviously required to recognize everyone who entered or left the eastern palace. He didn’t expect the new crown prince’s secretary to know his name. This fellow was way better than that arrogant Shi Kun.

He immediately had a favorable opinion of Zu An. “Lord Zu, assassins attacked the eastern palace yesterday. Even a grandmaster showed up, and His Majesty had to become personally involved. This place was razed to the ground from the shockwave.”

“Are the crown prince and crown princess okay?” asked Zu An with concern.

“They’re fine. They were just slightly shaken. A different palace is being used as a temporary eastern palace. I’ll take you there,” Piao Duandiao said enthusiastically.

Staff like them who worked in the palace all aimed to not offend anyone. This fella was even quite nice to him, so he obviously wouldn’t treat him rudely.

Zu An clasped his fist. “Thank you, Guardsman Piao.” After yesterday’s interaction, he knew that this fellow loved to be in the limelight, and he was happy to oblige.

Piao Duandiao was overjoyed that Zu An was addressing him this way, and his expression grew more friendly.

The two of them began to chat casually, and Piao Duandiao’s impression of this new secretary only grew better. He was going to introduce him to Jiao Sigun next time.

They soon arrived at the new eastern palace. Zu An first paid the crown prince a visit, but the fatty had been so panicked the night before that he was completely out of sorts. He wasn’t even in the mood to play, and was naturally in less of a mood to meet with him.

Zu An didn’t mind at all. He was happy to remain invisible for the day. However, idly wasting the day away didn’t appeal to him.

He asked around and learned that the crown prince’s lesser tutor had also been injured quite badly. This, together with the magnitude of the previous day’s events, meant that the lessons today were canceled.

He wondered if he could use this opportunity to improve his relationship with big sis sect master… Pah! I mean, help Honglei pass on information to her master.

No one would notice if he went for a stroll, right?

He snuck his way towards the entrance, but he ended up running into a beautiful woman.

Zu An was alarmed when he saw who it was, and quickly took a few steps back. “I greet the crown princess!”

The emperor had selfishly wanted him to chop off his own hand precisely because he had unintentionally carried her the previous night. If he really ran into her, there would be nowhere to hide.

The crown princess was given a fright. She quickly took a step back and regained her footing. Her sudden movements sent the jade pendants adorning her dress swinging wildly, emitting crisp, clear chimes as they collided with each other.

The crown princess was clearly in a foul mood. “And where are you off to?” she demanded. Zu An obviously didn’t dare to say that he was skipping work. He cast his mind about for an excuse. “I wanted to use the restroom,” he explained.

The crown princess frowned disdainfully. “You were late today.”

Zu An’s face heated up. He was late because he’d been playing around with Qiu Honglei. “The security outside the palace was strict, and soldiers were patrolling everywhere, creating a delay.”

This woman had assumed her fierce and arrogant demeanor again. In his opinion, she looked much cuter the day before.

“Remember to leave earlier next time,” replied the crown princess. “Aside from accompanying the crown prince in his studies, the crown prince’s secretary also shoulders the important duty of ensuring the crown prince’s safety. I didn’t see you anywhere yesterday when the assassins came. Fortunately, the golden-token envoy, Lord Eleven, arrived in time. You should learn from his example.”

“Of course, of course. I will surely follow his example.” Zu An wasn’t about to offer the rebuttal that it would have been strange if he had remained in the eastern palace when his shift ended. Hmph, I wonder what this woman’s expression would be like if she found out that I am none other than Golden Token Eleven!

The crown princess frowned and sighed inwardly. Why was everyone so incompetent and infuriating?! Look at how mature and earnest Lord Eleven is, how he gives off a natural sense of security, yet this fellow only knows how to put on that fake smile. If the crown prince only has these useless idiots at his side, how are we going to go up against King Qi in the future?

She was about to continue speaking when a tall and skinny lesser eunuch rushed over. “I greet the crown princess! Her Highness, the empress, wishes for a meeting.”

Zu An recognized him to be one of the empress’ two lesser eunuchs, Little Gui. The attack on the Palace of Peace by the Shadow Group had left many high eunuchs dead. Those two fellows had received promotions on an astronomical scale.

The crown princess nodded. “Too many things have happened over the past few days. I almost forgot to wish the empress good health.”

She called over the stunned fatty standing off to the side, and was about to head over to the Place of Peace, when Little Gui said with a big smile, “The empress has invited everyone from the eastern palace to join her as well. She wishes to reward those who bravely defended her last night.”

The crown princess was momentarily stunned, but this request made sense to her, so she didn’t pay it too much attention. It was clear that the empress was trying to extend her influence, but the crown princess didn’t feel a need to bicker over such a small matter. Besides, if she interfered, the staff of the eastern palace would resent her for it. She wasn’t about to do something so foolish.

Zu An’s heart was pounding. He immediately knew that the crown prince and crown princess, even the entire eastern palace staff were just signboards, just pretenses. This was all for the sake of meeting him!

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